And don’t mean the State of Florida!(Where things are crazy.) I mean Richard Florida. He’s Senior Editor of The Atlantic and Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Listening to him on Ali Velshi’s Your Money (CNN) made a lot of sense when it comes to jobs and building our economy.
Recently The Washington Post ran an article about the income inequality gap in DC, one of the nation’s widest (Carol Morello, March 8, 2012). The income quality gap in this country is staggering but especially so in Atlanta, Boston and DC. In DC the highest one-fifth households make (hold your breath!), $259,000 on average. The lowest one-fifth make just $9,100. This is staggering.
So hearing Richard Florida’s solution made a lot of sense to me. He reports that by 2020 the U.S. will have created approximately 20.5 million jobs – with nearly 10 million of them in the lower-range, lower-skill areas of healthcare (especially to the elderly), retail and the hospitality/food service industries. So, how to raise these jobs to create middle class households that have the means to buy houses, purchase goods and services, send their kids to school, etc?? Florida says that the only solution to fixing our economy is to “turn the low-wage, low-skill jobs into better paying jobs.” Sounds good, but how to do that? How to value these types of jobs? It’s the old argument about raising the minimum wage. First of all, just do it! Raise the wages of these jobs! Then expect more!
Currently we value the knowledge jobs – doctors, lawyers, computer programmers, engineers, etc Let’s start putting more value on “social intelligence skills”. Florida writes that this is much more than being friendly and outgoing. Social intelligence includes the ability to develop people, organize them around goals, recruit and lead teams and the ability to select the right people for the job.
All this makes a lot of sense to me. But what about this? If you raise the wages of the lower-skilled will you also have to raise the wages of everyone else? I think not. This solution to the vanishing middle class will simply shorten the gap between the top one-fifth and the bottom one-fifth – it won’t eliminate it! Oh, well, just a thought. This is my rant today!